The harmonious relationship between Disney
The device itself is pretty slick. A high-def camera, over-the-air TV tuner, and glasses-free 3-D display are just some of the handset's nifty features. In short, Disney isn't phoning it in, even in a country that is home to some of Disney's more successful theme parks.
The rub here is that this won't be an iPhone. Disney's smartphone in Japan will run on Google's
Disney and Apple have been chummy since the family entertainment giant's acquisition of Pixar made Steve Jobs Disney's largest shareholder. Disney was quick to offer up its popular catalog of films and television shows when Apple began selling digital video. The second-most-popular third-party app at the iPad launch was a streaming application for Disney's ABC.
Is this the kind of gadget that could come between the two companies?
It's easy to dismiss the rollout. Disney-themed handsets have been disastrous domestically in the past. Disney's sports-centric ESPN Mobile device was euthanized in 2006 after barely a year on the market. Its family-geared Disney Mobile initiative was also shot down faster than Bambi's mom. Electronista.com also points out that Android hasn't really caught on in Japan.
But let's not dismiss the new handset's prospects so quickly.
Disney is very popular in Japan. We also have to consider the multimedia explosion in wireless that has taken place since Mickey Mouse's original failures. The iPhone wasn't even around to usher in the smartphone era as we know it when ESPN Mobile and Disney Mobile had their short-lived runs.
We also can't ignore Android's global appeal. It won't catch on everywhere, but the beauty of a freely available operating system platform is that premium brands can easily -- and cheaply -- build on it for branded phones. Android's popularity will only continue to grow in wireless.
This initial step will probably not test the relationship between Disney and Apple, but it may if the phones are a hit. After all, Disney would be promoting the Android platform and Adobe's
Are there deeper problems at Disney's domestic theme park resorts? Share your experience in the comment box below.
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz can usually be found at Walt Disney World with his iPhone in tow. Not today, though. He does own shares in Disney. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.